All about the community of model railroading and rail enthusiasm


2021 Cowcatcher Magazine

All issues priced at $5.95 unless otherwise noted.

Vintage Essential – January/February 2021: Since its inception 31 years ago, the McKinney Avenue Trolley has evolved from a nostalgic ride in a trendy Dallas neighborhood to a key link in Big D. PLUS, readers say the state of model railroading is good, but growing the hobby remains a big challenge; the Crossville Model Railroad Club in Crossville, TN, runs trains for the public and tells the region’s railroad history along the way; Rapido Trains’ HO Flexi-Flo hopper delivers on detail and variety; and the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific bridge has weathered time to provide a key link across the Red River.

January/February 2021

Pressing Ahead – March/April 2021: Once one of Dallas/Fort Worth’s premier model railroad club layouts, the HO-scale Gulf & Denver Railroad Authority is rebuilding from the ground up. PLUS, a new administration on Capitol Hill that favors rail could hold big things for Amtrak; a thin line of trees provides visually pleasing separation on the N-scale Whitehurst & Pine Ridge Railroad; The Colorado Eagle retained all the amenities of first-class travel 20 years after its arrival; and ScaleTrains.com acquires HO and S tooling from M>T.H. Electric Trains.

March/April 2021

Tele-help – May/June 2021: Big data is getting bigger in railroading when it comes to tracking freight cars. PLUS, the N-scale Bayou City & Gulf has been a fixture at a Houston train store for decades and an ambassador to model railroading; the proposed Kansas City Southern and Canadian Pacific merger holds opportunity for a seamless North American rail network; The Golden Age of Passenger Travel heads east on the Baltimore & Ohio’s National Limited; and Watco purchases Canadian National’s non-core lines and assets on the Soo subdivision.

May/June 2021

Backed Up – July/August 2021: Manufacturers are juggling supply shortages of electronic devices, including those that support DCC model railroad equipment. PLUS, Norfolk & Western No. 611 returns to the Strasburg Rail Road for special excursions; the HO-scale Mystic Branch offers eight steps for preparing engines and cars for operations; Rapido’s HO-scale Southern Pacific SW1200 locomotive sounds off with plenty of muscle and might; and the Pan American was the “beauty of the Southland” for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. And more!

July/August 2021 $6.25

Backed Up – September/October 2021: Grapevine, TX, which enjoys robust tourism, has become a total rail destination with the link of TEXRail to DFW International Airport and the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. PLUS, the HO Rock Harbor Railroad employs a homemade carfloat system to deliver cars; modeling a modern-day printing operation on the Whitehurst & Pine Ridge Railroad; ScaleTrain.com’s HO Bethlehem Steel Co. F68CH flatcar doesn’t buckle under pressure; and the East Troy Railroad Museum welcomes the return of former Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Car No. 761. And more!

September/October 2021 $6.25

Springmaid Line – November/December 2021: The history-rich Lancaster & Chester Railroad short line has become ingrained in north central South Carolina and is enjoying a very active growth mode. PLUS, the N-scale Gateway Grain Railway packs detail in a small space; Northland Rail aims to boost marketing for model railroad and railroad organizations behind the expertise of veteran hobbyists; Large newspaper press rooms depended on rail for delivering paper, as told in the second part of the Cowcatcher’s series on modeling a modern-day newspaper production facility; the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad marks 50 years (plus one) of narrow-gauge excursions between Chama, NM, and Antonito, CO; and take a ride on the Rocky Mountaineer’s newest excursion, “Rockies to the Red Rocks.”

November/December 2021 $6.25

Current Issue: September/October 2023


Bright, shiny freight cars are showing in greater numbers on the North American rail network. New orders and deliveries increased in 2022 following a decline beginning in 2019 that the pandemic worsened in 2020 and 2021. According to a report from the Railway Supply Institute's American Railway Car Institute Committee, new freight car orders last year were significantly greater than the combined total of 2020 and 2021. Deliveries increased nearly as much.

But car builders are not out of the woods yet, as the first half of 2023 saw some ups and downs.


Too much of a good thing can be hazardous to model railroad operations. Adding more cars to a layout can place more pressure on yards and industries when running the railroad like the real thing. Three veteran operators share their thoughts about how to avoid logjams in yards, sidings and at industries. 


Computer-based applications that complement DCC are driving the new frontier of model rail road operations.


The Sunset Limited ranks as Amtrak's worst train in on-time performance, prompting a Surface Transportation Board investigation. The Southern Pacific's Coast Daylight, with its brilliant colors, was among the most beautiful trains during the golden age of passenger rail. A BNSF test locomotive that set the stage for future developments in alternative energy motive power technology arrives at an Oklahoma railroad museum.